- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Second Amendment Foundation will launch a nationwide TV and radio campaign Monday aimed at exposing legal holes in President Obama’s executive actions to ban ammunition commonly used in AR-15 sport utility rifles.

“We bought $700,000 of time on Fox News and Glenn Beck’s Blaze network,” Alan Gottlieb, the group’s founder and executive vice president, told The Washington Times in a Sunday telephone interview. “It’s aimed at getting our legal argument out to the public, and at getting support for a possible lawsuit.”

The foundation’s one-minute commercial heralds 1 million Americans to call a toll-free number to voice their concerns, make a contribution and target Mr. Obama for “exercising another executive power grab.”

The ad claims, “The Obama administration was unable to impose gun restrictions and confiscation through the legislative process, so now it’s trying to ban commonly used ammunition through regulation. … If we allow Obama to ban ammunition through executive fiat now, it will lead to the loss of our Second Amendment rights by the time Obama leaves office.”

Press secretary Josh Earnest said last week that Mr. Obama supports the ban because he predicts that the AR-15’s .223 caliber M855 ammunition will be used to pierce law enforcement officer armor, although there are no such reported cases to date.

The Second Amendment Foundation’s media campaign is being launched only days after it sent a scathing legal threat to B. Todd Jones, director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. In addition, 239 congressional lawmakers, including seven Democrats, dispatched a letter voicing their own concerns to the federal agency.

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The proposed regulations, which ban the production and sale of the steel-tipped ammunition was a response to an ATF report that claims new handguns are capable of firing the ammunition. But the new AR-15 “handguns” are nearly 2 feet long, and weigh about 6 pounds, making them almost impossible to conceal like a traditional handgun.

The administration’s logic does not satisfy the requirements under federal law to classify the ammunition as “armor piercing,” the foundation argues.

Under 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(17)(c), there is a two-prong legal test for determining whether ammunition is “armor piercing.”

The first qualification requires a projectile core that may be used in a handgun is made from a “combination of tungsten alloys, steel, iron, brass, bronze, beryllium copper or depleted uranium.”

The second prong limits those rounds, which include a “full jacketed projectile larger than .22 caliber designed and intended for use in a handgun and whose jacket has a weight of more than 25 percent of the total weight of the projectile.”

Both standards are met, Mr. Gottlieb says, because the ammunition is made of lead and steel, not made of any of the aforementioned alloys, and because it was not “designed and intended” for use in a handgun. The ammunition is also not “fully jacketed,” and its copper jacket does not weigh more than 25 percent of the round’s total 62 grains.

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“The administration’s claims are not exactly true,” Mr. Gottlieb said.

Congress lets the ATF write its own ammunition regulations, but those regulations must comport with federal law and statutes enacted by Congress.

“This proposal is just an attempt to limit firearms rights because the President’s other such attempts have been blocked through constitutional checks and balances on his power. Should the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Enforcement (BATFE) lawlessly proceed on this path, SAF intends to call on those checks and balances to stop the Administration’s executive overreach again,” Miko Tempski, the Second Amendment Foundation’s general counsel, warned in his letter to Mr. Jones.

The foundation has successfully used legal threats to government agencies and entities violating the Second Amendment before filing lawsuits.

In 2008, its current lead counsel, Alan Gura, was the attorney who successfully argued the District of Columbia v. Heller case before the Supreme Court, which struck down the 1976 gun ban in the nation’s capital as unconstitutional. More broadly, it established that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms is an individual one, not collective right reserved only to militias.

Mr. Gura and the foundation also successfully argued the 2010 case that “incorporated” this right, saying it limited the states as well as the federal government.

“We can’t sue yet until it’s implemented, but this media campaign will help us get support, so we’re ready,” Mr. Gottlieb said.

• Jeffrey Scott Shapiro can be reached at jshapiro@washingtontimes.com.

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